As the narrator of Bette Greene's novel, Summer of My German Soldier, Patty Bergen suffers several forms of abuse at the hands of her angry father. Harry Bergen is one unhappy man, full of repressed rage and subject to violent outbursts. He is not particularly proud of his Jewish heritage or his childhood poverty. Money is always a central issue with him. He exercises complete control over the other members of his family, including the maid, Ruth, who he threatens to fire. His relationship with his in-laws is also a poor one, in part because he cannot control their own thoughts and actions.
Harry's bad temperament affects those around him. He delivers both physical and mental abuse toward his daughter. When she disobeys him, he knocks her to the ground and beats her with his belt outside their house. When Harry discovers that she has housed the German prisoner without his knowledge, he is enraged that she has betrayed him--a Jew--for a "goddam Nazi." After she is sent to the girls' reformatory, her parents refuse to have anything to do with her. This alienation leaves Patty alone in an environment where she is shunned by the other prisoners because of her traitorous actions.